Not a Great Start

rambler build

The Ocean Air Cycles Rambler arrived Thursday afternoon, and I finally had a chance to start on the build. I thought I might have everything I need to at least get it rolling, but recognized the possibility that some of my parts might not work as well as anticipated. It didn’t take long for things to go awry.

The first thing I tried to do didn’t work. My bottom bracket tool is missing. It could be in several logical places that my parts or tools usually end up, but it isn’t in any one of them. No idea. I was able to thread the bottom bracket in most of the way by hand (thanks to Rob’s wonderful frame prep), but I’ll need to go buy another tool before I install cranks.

The next thing I tried took two attempts. I found my old SON dyno hub front wheel, and added a new tube and tire. Within minutes, the tube “sprung a leak” near the reinforced area around the valve stem. Weird. So I removed the offending tube (to be hopefully patched later) and tried another.  Holding for now.

Thirdly, my lack of attention to detail bit me hard. The rear wheel that I had assumed was 650b is actually 700c. That doesn’t work at all, but I had a back-up plan. Since my Hilsen came home from my last S24O with two flats (another story for another day), I figured I’d borrow its rear wheel for the Rambler build and get another wheel for the Hilsen later. But that didn’t work either.

rim crack

As I started cleaning the layers of Texas gravel dust and C&O Trail mud off (the Rambler should at least start reasonably clean, right?), a crack at one of the eyelets became evident. Amazing. I’m only moments into a new build, and have already discovered I need two new rear wheels.

I tried to remain calm. Determined to show some progress, I found my seatpost and new Brooks Cambium saddle, and installed them successfully. Even I could get that right. The new stem, cable hanger, and parts bin bars went on to the fork steerer tube to allow for a semi-mock-up look-see. Just enough done to remind me of my limitations and fuel the anticipation fire simultaneously. It wasn’t a great start.

Ramble 2015 Details

road front 1

The Seventh Annual Fall Finale Fifty-ish Mile Country Path Ramble rolls out at 9 am on Saturday, November 14…less than 4 weeks from now. This post is to remind those of you who might be considering joining us to make a decision, make a plan, invite your friends, and come on out.

This post is also for folks who haven’t joined us before…to explain what it is we do. Veterans of the ride have a pretty good idea on what to expect. In many ways, this year’s ride will be very similar to what we’ve typically done for the last few years.


This year’s Ramble will be on Saturday, November 14. We will roll out of my driveway at 9 am. That means you should arrive in time to make all needed preparations BEFORE 9 am.


The Ramble is a ride I do each year on a Saturday near the end of autumn. The primary objective is to spend a few hours riding a bicycle with others on rural north Texas roads.  A goodly fraction of the route is on gravel roads. Historically, it’s length has been in the 40-50 mile range. See historical Ramble reports for a little more insight (2011,2010, and 2009).  The ride report for last year is HERE.

This year’s route, weather permitting, will be the same as last year.  There will be two options.  The standard route which includes the communities of Greenwood and Rosston is approximately 50 miles.  The shorter optional route is smaller loop-within-a-loop that bypasses the two communities (so no services at all) and is roughly 35 miles long.

I always want folks to know that I’m not hard-core.  I can ride if it is a little cold, or a little drizzly, but I don’t like cold AND wet.  On days like that, I will send you on your way with a cue sheet and my best wishes, and then spend the rest of my day by the fireplace (join me there if you wish).

The pace is what I call “conversational” because I think of this as a social kind of touring ride.  We will stop for snacks, photographs, or just because.  Since I’m participating in the Coffeeneuring Challenge, and Ramble weekend is the last Coffeeneuring weekend, I am definitely planning to stop for a coffee brew-up. Like last year, I plan to have cue sheets available for those who might wish to ride faster or slower than me.

The other thing to emphasize for this ride is that you are responsible for you. This is not a T-shirt ride, there are no entry fees, and no sag services. We’ll have a couple of places to stop for restroom, water, or snacks. The first opportunity is Greenwood at approximately mile 18, and the second is at Rosston at approximately mile 28/29 or so. Really, there might only be one restroom stop. At my last visit, the Rosston store restroom was out of order. The owner hoped to have it fixed, but wouldn’t commit to it, so plan accordingly. You should have a back-up plan for a mechanical problem, and beware…some areas on the Ramble route do not have cell phone service.  Yes, it’s rural.


Anyone who is interested in being a part of what is described above is welcome to participate. If you plan to join me, I would appreciate an email message (cj dot spinner at g mail dot com) or a blog post comment telling me that you will be here.  My preparation plans are dependent on the number of folks participating, so please help me with this. If you plan to join us and haven’t already contacted me, please do so now.


If you need my address and/or directions to my little place on the prairie, send me an email.


Plan ahead. If this Ramble thing sounds like a good time, block out the day and get it on your calendar now. Then make your contingency plan in case you can’t finish the route for any reason. Finally, let me know you are coming. Bring a friend.

Any questions?

New for 2015

Two things.


First, Mrs. Pondero plans to have a few jars of her exclusive Blue Dog Bee Ranch honey available for sale. Probably due to the very wet spring, the honey is a little darker this year. We love it. Mrs. Pondero says this is the honey they serve in heaven. Half pints at $10/jar and Full pints at $18/jar.  Also, Mrs. Pondero and I are planning a post-ride early dinner at Miguelito’s in Sanger. If you don’t need to rush back to the big city, please meet us there.

C&O Canal Trail – The Facts

1 This trip turned out to be bigger than my words, and larger than my photographs. One blog post will not suffice. So this first one will cover some basic facts. I’m considering a second one that would cover my impressions. However, my impressions were huge, and I might decide that the second post will also not suffice. In that case I’ll recognize that I am unable to communicate this trip, and abandon the cause. Either way, here are at least a few basic facts.

2 The beginning of it all is that my first grandchild was born in February, and Mrs. Pondero and I schemed a fall trip to Silver Spring, MD to visit. Having plenty of time for scheming, the visit grew into a grandson/family/old friends/bike tour/new friends whirlwind. Mrs. Pondero and I spent Saturday, Sunday, and Monday with my grandson, Titus (and his parents). Then my good friends Steve and Cindy Butcher arrived Monday evening in time for dinner and prepare for a morning tour departure. Our nucleus group consisted of me, my friend Steve, and my son-in-law Carey Jones. The plan was to ride (and lollygag) the C&O until we ran out of time on Friday.

I had shipped my bike to Washington, D.C. via Amtrak, and it arrived before I did. Many thanks to Shawn Granton for the tip. It worked out fine in both directions.

2aWhile scheming, I posted to the Rivendell Bicycle Works Google Group that I’d be in the DC vicinity and would love to meet some of the locals. I pointed out that my itinerary was inflexible and our tour would be entirely during the work week, but the locals demonstrated amazing hospitality and many joined for part of our tour. Some for a few miles on the first morning, and some for the first overnight. The locals must have been desperate to escape work, or the excellent local logistics planning skills of Tony DeFilippo won them over. I think there were ten of us at the trail meet-up. It was a joy to meet everyone, and an honor to have folks make the time to be a part of something so special for us.

3 As the day grew older, most folks had to turn back to real life. Only two guys (Jeff and Tom) finished the day and set-up camp with us. However, John read my RBW Group post that we were coming his way. He couldn’t ride with us, but he did ride out to the campsite on his Quickbeam and entertained us with stories as we set up.  Thanks, John!

4 On Wednesday morning, Jeff turned back and only Tom remained with us. We stopped to refuel at a place that had been recommended in Brunswick called Beans in the Belfry. With such good food and atmosphere, it is easy to understand the high recommendations. Finally, at Harpers Ferry, Tom dropped off and only the three-man nucleus remained.

5 Since I know Steve and Carey so well already, much of our conversation related to what we were seeing and experiencing. The light and the leaves caught much of my attention as I pedaled the trail.

6 Wednesday was a relatively short pedaling day. We ended up in Sharpsburg where our wives and my grandson joined us for a carriage tour of the Antietam Battlefield, dinner, and a luxurious night stay at a BnB.

7 On Thursday morning the three guys returned to the trail. We found another great refueling stop in Williamsport called The Desert Rose Cafe. It was a popular spot for Trail cyclists. Then we enjoyed more light and leaves, the Potomac River rolling by, and the fall color seemed to suddenly emerge in a visible way.

8 9 We found another excellent campsite for Thursday night.

10 On Friday, we enjoyed more quiet miles along the trail in comfortable Fall weather. By the time we crossed the Paw Paw Tunnel, we knew that we’d not make it all the way to Cumberland. Our wives/grandson support crew were to pick us up and return us to Silver Spring that evening. We finished our tour at Oldtown contented and grateful for all that we had been able to experience in these four days.

11Here are approximate mapped versions of our travels each day…

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. I estimated that we covered (and truly experienced all) 198 miles.  Many more photos of the tour are HERE.

Only Four More Weeks!

4 weeks awayThe date is Saturday, November 14, 2015.

I’ll post more details soon for rookies.  In the meantime, as usual, it would help me to know who is coming.  So provide me notification, please, via blog comments or email if you plan to join us.